Featuring Ard Berge . Gray Park . Holly Popielarz . Laura Radwell
October - November 2020
OPENING EVENT Saturday, October 24th from 6:00-8:00 PM
Amid the busy chaos of life in a material world, look up in the quiet moments, recount vivid dreams and complex human interactions and begin to notice delicately sewn threads of uncanny connectivity. They lead us to question where we actually are right now. Our realities are extraordinarily individual. What one remembers is not what another does, even with all of the same tangible information being provided to each. At the core of our landscape and mindscape are stacks of consciousness folding and unfolding.
Be it rolling hills, watery reflections of blue sky, skyscraper filled streets or wallpaper lined rooms, a ‘scape’ is the environment we exist within or imagine from our mind’s eye and experiences. How we inhabit these spaces and the feelings assigned when we are in them or gazing upon them is a reflection of our own emotional state of being. Our senses are piqued and plucked. Our energy flips through files of old memories that exist deeply within us as scent, sound, or feeling, and reach out like antennae to latch onto information downloading.
Coastal Contemporary features paintings and sculptures by four New England artists Ard Berge, Gray Park, Holly Popielarz and Laura Radwell. from October 18th – November 30th,.
Ard Berge and Gray Park both paint in plein-air fashion. Ever so closely they observe the details of a vibrant life shifted by the changing New England light and weather. There is an eerie element to Berge’s traditionally rendered ‘scapes’ where the human is present, but also absent. The viewer gazes in, almost as a voyeur sneaking quietly into a fantasy. Our recollections fall into the moment and shape our translations. Berge unites history and closely observed perspectives of contemporary life. He examines the fleeting yet lasting forces of our economy and society, as they continuously push redefinitions upon these delicate environments.
Park immerses us in textural, bold landscapes and we are heavily doused with the occasion. He skillfully translates the motion of the changing seasons as time slides around. We exist where the painter stands and the rectangular format of stretched canvas gently fades away. Wind bends grasses and ripples the water, a bird swoops above, clouds morph the sky, warm tones turn cool and as all of this reaches our vision, we gather every ounce and become transported through his window pane.
Radwell activates her process with a memory and employs color as a launching pad on her journey into imagined and abstracted impressions of place. A stream of spontaneous inspiration guides her brush and we find ourselves immersed in familiar and unfamiliar territory. The artist intentionally excludes specific representational elements, allowing freedom for herself and the viewer to be lost within or find respite inside of these atmospheric, illusioned worlds. With suggested horizon, our mind, body and spirit strive to find footing within the mysteries she suggests through sweeping brushstroke, line and gathered layers of thick pigment.
Popielarz communicates personal perspectives with the environment through a variety of reused, raw materials and by being present in her pure and whimsical techniques of hand-crafting minute details. She is aware of the altered differences between the way things are in reality versus the ways in which we translate and remember them. Her curious sculptures demonstrate this through a strangeness of shapes and forms, conveyed in an alien-like manner. These ‘scapes’ have the viewer gazing upon a part of life that is often haunting, a bit empty, lonely, uncertain and ever mysterious. Holly’s pieces are stored in playful, theatrical containers that she produces for each. The work becomes rather like a tiny traveling circus as it is transported, an appropriate metaphor for the world we live in.
Laura Radwell, a native New Yorker, is an artist and devoted collector of visual impressions who has lived in Northampton, Massachusetts since 1974. She attended schools in New York, Massachusetts, and in France, studying language, literature and psychology. With little to no formal training, she found her own way in a variety of media including batik, sculpture, calligraphy, graphic design, and painting. In the early 1990s Radwell began focusing on photomontage, but then needed to turn her full attention to her growing business, Radwell Communication by Design.
In November of 2009 she resumed the photo-based work, deconstructing and recomposing elements of nature and the built environment. This time the work was entirely digital, beginning with photographs she captured of the landscape, deteriorating surfaces like oxidized metal and chipped paint, and objects of interest (grimy factory windows, walls showing the effects of time, cracked cement, etc.). Blended and arranged on a virtual canvas, abstractions based on real world elements were created, challenging habitual ways of seeing.
In September of 2014, she took up her oils once again. At first, the work resembled landscapes executed decades earlier. But her style quickly evolved into a new mode of painting that was actually informed by the digital work she had been doing in recent years. What has now emerged these years later, is a way of painting landscapes that is more expressive, and one that produces more abstract studies in color, texture, and form. Though abstract, the work contains an aesthetic that landscapes have often manifested over time, one which conveys feelings and emotions that range from peace and acceptance to turmoil and yearning, depending on the vantage point of the viewer.
Ard Berge received his M.F.A. in Painting from the New York Academy of Art in 1997. He was awarded a B.F.A. in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1995. His education has also included study with Jacob Collins at Water Street Atelier in Brooklyn, Graham Nickson at the New York Studio School, working with Rose Shakinovsky and Claire Gavronsky at the Art Institute of Florence in Italy, and private lessons with Patrick Devonas as well as Artefact Mosaic Studio in Venice, Italy.
Since 1999, he has taught studio art and art history at Felician University where he currently serves as Professor of Art in the Art Department. In parallel, he has led artist workshops internationally from one organized under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State in Angola with Antonio Olé to those conducted in Maine for the New York Academy of Art.
Ard Berge has also been awarded artist’s residencies at the Santa Fe Art Institute in 2002 and Acadia National Park in 2012. He has traveled extensively visiting and painting sites throughout Europe, Africa, and America, with a focus on its National Parks.
Berge has exhibited widely—with solo shows at Art First Contemporary Art gallery in London, Iona College in New Rochelle, New York, and at the Queensborough Community College Art Gallery in Bayside, New York.
He lives and works in Manhattan.
Holds a BFA from The Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD.
At a young age Gray was recognized as having an inherit creative talent. He was placed in the Talented & Gifted programs throughout all of his schooling. In his 3rd year of college Gray was formally introduced to Plein Air painting. The following year he spent several months in Scotland, Plein Air painting the fishing villages, inspired by the shapes and colors of the boats, capturing the essence of his subject matter. Upon his return to the States, Gray found new inspiration in his local landscapes. He is a member of the new school of American Landscape Plein Air painters. Gray engages in vivid conversation with the rich variety of light seen there throughout the seasons. His work reflects an authentic connection to the land, and a life long devotion to his craft.
Holly Popielarz is an artist who lives and works in New Bedford, MA. In 2010 she earned an MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Currently she teaches at Rhode Island College and for Rhode Island School of Design’s Pre-College and Certificate and Continuing Education Programs in Providence.
She has been awarded the Parent Residency grant at Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY. The period of residency is to be announced given the current pandemic. Since 2013 Holly has been a Lending Artist for the deCordova Corporate Art Loan Program. She has attended residencies in New Foundland, Canada and received two returning residencies at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA. Her works have been viewed at; S & G gallery, at bOb Gallery, artSTRAND, Hudson D. Walker Gallery, Provincetown Art Association, New Bedford Art Museum, Gallery at Four, Bannister Gallery, and The Vault. She has participated in public art works that have been viewed at Mashapaug Pond, The Vets Theater and at Talbot Middle School.